December Plant of the Month: Holly

The British countryside is experiencing a bumper crop of holly berries this autumn, thanks to perfect weather conditions in 2018. So the traditional Christmas plant is putting on its best display in over 20 years. As well as being a symbol of the festive season, the common native evergreen provides vital winter food for animals and birds and makes Holly the perfect plant of the month for December. Get yours in time for Christmas!

Keep reading to check out our favourite evergreen Holly plants, a handy guide for planting Holly in borders and containers.

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Once planted, Hollies resent disturbance, so buy younger, smaller plants are the way to go as these are easier to establish in the garden. So, take a look below at our bestselling varieties.

Holly Hedging (English Holly)

A brilliant hedging plant. Forming a dense prickly barrier, English Holly is a welcome source of food and protection to wildlife in the winter. Their glossy evergreen leaves and bright red and orange berries are a beautiful sight during the festive season.

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Holly Blue Angel

A classic winter wonder. This popular evergreen bush produces vivid red fruits and dark olive leaves and can be grown outside for years to come for bigger and better displays each Christmas.

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Holly Ingramii

Our superb, premium Holly variety. This new variegated Holly is ideal as a feature shrub or very prickly barrier hedge. The glossy, dark green leaves are patterned with a broad, irregular, speckled, cream margin.

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Holly Ornamental Collection

An outstanding collection of Hollies. These colourful evergreens produce striking red berries from December. The collection includes one of each variety: ‘Sharpy’, ‘Golden Van Tol’ and ‘Aurea Marginata’ and one male ‘Blue Prince’.

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Holly Argentea Marginata

An awe-inspiring evergreen tree that looks great in every garden. With masses of bright red winter berries and lustrous, silvery dark green leaves, why not add a festive staple into your garden?

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🍃 How to Plant Holly 🍃

For the border:

  • Dig a hole large enough for the root ball, plant and water in well.
  • Keep the area surrounding a newly planted holly weed free by mulching or covering with a mulch mat.
  • If a Holly has to be moved, lift carefully in late-winter or early spring, making sure you remove a large root ball. Water carefully for a year.
  • Hollies grow slowly and often appear to stand still for two or three years.
  • If your garden is prone to rabbit damage, protect new plants before they strip the bark.

For containers:

  • Plant in moist, but well-drained soil.
  • To ensure good drainage, use a pot with a drainage hole(s) and a quality potting soil or potting mix, or a 50/50 combination thereof, for planting.
  • Choose a container that is large enough to allow for 2 to 3 years of growth before shifting up to a larger size container. This might mean your planting pot would be 10 inches or more in diameter (width) than the root ball of your plant.

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10 Drought Tolerant Plants to Beat the Summer Heat

With our increasingly hotter summers, climate change presents us with the challenge of gardening with less water. However, there is a considerable range of plants that can tolerate dry conditions. These drought-tolerant plants are the perfect choice for sunny spots in your garden.

1. Nepeta

Nepeta are a reliable perennial, very hardy and tolerant of all conditions and it returns reliably each year. They are very effective even in dry and drought areas, so they are useful for even the most difficult spots in the garden.

Nepeta Six Hills Giant

This vigorous perennial produces clusters of aromatic, small lavender blue flowers. This variety is a perfect addition to borders and edging beds, as well as attracting bees and butterflies to the summer garden. With a grey-green foliage and masses of flowers, this Nepeta adds a lovely, soft, gentle touch to cottage gardens.

2. Mimosa

The very hardy and heat-loving Mimosa is ideal wherever a full, dense canopy is desired during the summer months. Native to Southeastern Australia and then widely introduced to the Mediterranean , these plants are no stranger to higher, tropical temperatures.

Mimosa Acacia

The beautiful feathered foliage of the Mimosa Acacia will delight in the spring time, with their masses of fragrant yellow flowers. Create a statement display in your garden by planting this variety in patio container, but equally they are suited at the back of a border.

 

3. Sedum

Sedums are superb drought-resistant succulents that produce domes of star-shaped flowers in the summer and autumn seasons. Sedums have evolved to live in exposed conditions, where soil is very well-drained and sun and wind dry everything out quickly, so over the centuries, they have developed some inbuilt coping mechanisms such as fleshy, water-storing leaves and stems.

Sedum Hot Stuff

This striking Sedum produces large bursts of vibrant pink flowers that are wildly-loved by butterflies and bees. This strong, compact forming plant makes a great border addition or make a bigger impact by planting in groups so they will really stand out in the late summer garden.

4. Lavender

A native to the Mediterranean and the Middle East, it’s no wonder that Lavender makes a great drought-tolerant addition to the garden. It can be used as a low hedge, specimen plant, or even a cut flower, and will add a beautiful fragrance to the garden.

Dwarf Lavender Munstead

This compact evergreen shrub blooms with spikes of small, highly fragrant, blue-purple flowers in mid to late summer. Plant en masse to produce ground cover, low screening, or in lines to create a great border effect.

5. Campsis Radicans

Also known as Trumpet Vines, these hardy plants are fast climbers that grow well even in poor soil and full sunlight, and the blossoms attract hummingbirds too. Campsis Radicans can live for decades and although they die back in the winter, they’re quick to spring back to life in the spring.

Campsis radicans

Blooming with clusters of showy, exotic warm red trumpet-shaped blooms, this self-clinging climber is ideal for a sunny wall or fence. These beautiful tropical flowers are marked with deep red insides appear above long, coarsely toothed, glossy dark green leaves with pointed tips and distinctive veining.

6. Ceanothus

Ceanothus, commonly known as California Lilac, are very drought tolerant shrubs and offer almost everything that a gardener could wish for in a shrub. They are free-flowering, drought tolerant, easy to cultivate and grow in most soils.

Ceanothus thyrsiflorus var repens

Beautiful in its simplicity, this fantastic award-winning shrub delights in the summer garden. Its rich glossy leaves nestle amongst sky blue florescence comprising of densely compact panicles that burst into bloom like tiny fireworks in spring and early summer. This evergreen variety looks beautiful in patio pots, or against a wall.

 

7. Jasmine

Jasmine provide more than delicate tendrils and sweet perfume, they create substance, structure and colourful blooms to the garden. This genus of shrubs and vines contains around 200 species, native to tropical and warm temperate regions and a number of species have become naturalised in Mediterranean Europe.

Trachelospermum jasminoides (Jasmine)

This highly fragrant, vigorous climber produces clusters of beautiful star-shaped white flowers, which bloom from June throughout the summer months. This is a perfect climber for growing against a warm, sunny wall. Jasmine flowers are ideal for perfuming the air with their sweet fragrance in the summer garden.

8. Verbena

Native to the American Tropics, Verbena plants are beautiful examples of drought-tolerant plants. These popular perennials produce rich nectar, so butterflies and bees also love them.

Verbena bonariensis

Elegant and long lasting. This bestselling Verbena variety produces masses of small purple flowers in clusters. With a good pest resistance, this fantastic border plant will delight in the summer garden, flowering from June to October. They also will make a great addition to cut flower displays.

9. Russian Sage

One of the toughest plants that needs little care. Russian Sage loves direct sun, tolerates almost any soil and is extremely drought tolerant. Its fine texture makes Russian Sage a good choice if you’re seeking contrast with plants exhibiting a coarser texture.

Perovskia atriplicifolia Blue Spire

Native to central Asia, Russian Sage’s natural habitat is on dry plains. This variety produces highly scented silver leaves that are topped with spikes of gorgeous, tiny violet purple bell-shaped flowers in late summer. The impressive flowers and foliage look amazing planted in a border or patio pot in the summer garden.

10. Agapanthus

Agapanthus are some of the most beautiful and reliable summer plants you can grow. Once established, Agapanthus are tough enough to withstand dry spells without stressing. Originating from the cliffs of South Africa, they naturally enjoy lots of sunshine and are naturally resistant to wind.

Agapanthus Melbourne

This stunning bi-colour variety blooms in the summer with purple buds that open to reveal white flowers with a lilac purple stripe through each petal. Also known as the African Lily, these plants are drought tolerant and enjoy plenty of sunlight.

 

 

 

Summer Plant Care Tips

 

Pollinators Month – Top 10 Wildlife Shrubs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#NationalPollinatorsMonth in June encourages the planting pollinator-friendly gardens with pollen and nectar-producing plants. When these gardens bloom, they attract bees, birds, bats, and other natural pollinators.

Woody shrubs provide food, shelter and breeding spaces for our wildlife. Nesting birds and hibernating insects make their homes in them and insects like butterflies use them as natural windbreaks. We have some great recommendations for shrubs that can make great habitats for wildlife in your garden.

Pyracantha

Pyracantha Orange Glow

Winning the RHS Garden Merit Award, Orange Glow is a sturdy evergreen shrub that produces spring blossoms and bright orange berries in the summer. This shrub provides nesting for birds and an abundant source of pollen and food for bees.

 

Viburnum

Viburnum Opulus Roseum (Snowball Tree)

This vigorous deciduous shrub is smothered with large, fragrant, pompom-like clusters of white or pale green tinted flowers every May and June. Purple foliage appears autumn when vibrant red berries, which provide an excellent food source for the birds.

Honeysuckle

Honeysuckle Belgica

A true ‘wildlife hotel’. Bring a profusion of vibrant colour to the summer garden with the Honeysuckle plant. The sweet, heady scent carried on a warm summer breeze is one of the most delightful experiences of the season, and the scent is strongest at night, which attracts pollinating moths.

Buddleia

Buddleia Empire Blue

A must for wildlife lovers. Also known as the ‘Butterfly Bush’, this Buddleia’s beautiful cool violet-blue blooms produce a lovely honey fragrance that is guaranteed to attract masses of butterflies and bees.

Weigela

Weigela Pink Poppet

Awarded the RHS ‘Perfect for Pollinators’ Award, this fantastic dwarf-growing shrub is certainly a wildlife haven. Weigela Pink Poppet is a long flowering variety that will attract a range of pollinators, from bees, butterflies and other nectar loving insects.

Sarcococca

Sarcococca hookeriana humilis

This variety produces small white flowers renowned for their vanilla aroma. After flowering, this compact and hardy shrub will also yield an abundance of shiny black berries that birds love, making it the perfect plant for a winter wildlife garden.

Erysimum

Erysimum Constant Cheer

As the name ‘Constant Cheer’ suggests, this exquisite hardy perennial produces long lasting prolific orange red flowers that mature to purple. This creates an amazing multi-coloured flowering feature plant that is highly attractive to bees, butterflies and other insects.

 

Clethra

Clethra Ruby Spice

Winner of the RHS Garden Merit Award for their reliable performance, stability of colour and form and good resistance to pests and diseases. This fantastic shrub is perfect for attracting bees into the garden, through their heady fragrance.

Syringa

Syringa meyeri Palibin

This upright deciduous shrub produces dense clusters of sweetly fragrant, light pink and white panicles over attractive heart-shaped foliage from late spring into early summer. When in bloom, the gorgeous flowers will bring butterflies to your garden.

Gaura

Gaura Whirling Butterflies

The ideal border perennial with an abundance of star shaped flowers. Gaura Whirling Butterflies pretty free-flowering white flower spikes, which resemble a fluttering butterfly, and also are handy for attracting beneficial insects to the garden, such as bees.

 

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Buddleia:

  • When planting for nectar, avoid double flowers or sterile varieties that limit the feeding opportunities for insects.
  • Select suitable plants for your garden’s conditions.

Top 10 Wildflowers for a Garden Meadow

Wildflowers have been referenced in British literature, poetry and music for centuries, from Shakespeare to D.H. Lawrence. Wildflower meadows and grasslands are our most diverse habitats, rich in wildlife, beauty, history and folklore. So, since the first week of May is #NationalWildflowerWeek, it seems like there’s no better time than now to bring a touch of the wild to your garden.

Here are our top 10 wildflower varieties to plant this spring…

 

 

 

 

 

Astilbe Dark Leaf Avalanche

Native to the mountains ravines and woodlands in Asia and North America, these plant’s are quite simply a gardener’s dream. Astilbe are carefree, summer blooming perennials and this variety produces a dense carpet of dark fern-like foliage with feathery white blooms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thymus Serpyllum

Native to Europe and North America, this flowering wild thyme will dazzle in a wildlife garden with their highly fragrant pinky-mauve flowers amongst their dark green foliage. This is the perfect wildflower for attracting bees and butterflies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scaevola Brilliant 

Native to Australia where they grow on hot rocky outcrops they are equally good at coping with hostile growing conditions. The lovely fan shaped blooms and shiny glossy green leaves make this a lovely feature plant, great in tubs and containers or planted up fences as illustrated.

 

Triteleia Queen Fabiola

Also known as the Starflower, Triplet Lily or Wild Hyacinth, the Triteleia Queen Fabiola is native to California where it grows wild. Bright green, grass-like leaves appear first, followed by clusters of violet purple star shaped blossoms with blue anthers in late spring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rose of Sharon

Originating from exotic Turkey and Bulgaria, Rose of Sharon is one of the best varieties for ground covers. Not only that, but it is very popular with bees. The large bright yellow star-shaped flowers with  red-tipped anthers make a sunny display from June to September.

 

 

 

 

 

Digitalis Hardy Mixed

Bring the wildness of the woods to your garden with this exciting mix of Digital Purpurea, commonly known as Foxgloves. Flowering from June to August, the foxglove plant bears an instantly recognizable shape consisting of tall, statuesque spikes of tubular, bell-like flowers each with a distinctively speckled throat.

 

 

 

 

 

Veronicastrum Cupid

Native to the United States where it grows in the wild, it’s a great ornamental border plant and is an excellent cut flower for an indoor display. This fabulous upright perennial with tall brush like spikes of blue/lilac flowers will bloom from June to September with whorls of lance-shaped, toothed leaves form at the base.

 

 

 

 

 

Geranium Sanguineum Alba 

In the wild Geranium Sangiuneum Alba is found in sand dunes and on rocky slopes.  This lovely sprawling perennial with small dark green leaves and pure white clusters of perfectly formed flowers in the summer is also known as the ‘bloody crane’s-bill’ for the crane like appearance of the fruit capsules in the spring.

 

 

 

 

 

Anemone Nemorosa

This Wood Anemone originated in the European woodlands and it still retains its natural carefree beauty. Un-surprisingly, given its origin, this little beauty is an excellent naturalising plant and will produce an ever increasing displays each year. Ideal for your patio pots and rockeries.

 

 

 

 

 

Camassia Leichtlinii Alba 

Also known as the Californian white-flowered quamash these will produce creamy-white blooms, densely set on very long stems. These are great naturalisers and will be happy in full sun or partial shade. A great addition to beds/borders, and will look fabulous planted en-masse in a wild garden.